Speculation is rife, two months after the last public appearance of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. The billionaire was supposed to be on the jury of his talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November finale. A spokesman for the company justified his absence to the Financial Times by a “conflict of agendas”, but this excuse seems not very credible.
The billionaire has not been seen since October 24, 2020 and his speech very critical of the regime. Since then, Jack Ma has been summoned by the Chinese authorities. The IPO of Ant Group, its online bank, has been suspended, sending Alibaba’s stock price plummeting. An investigation for suspicion of “monopolistic practices” has even been opened.
>> To read also – Alibaba and Jack Ma, its brilliant founder, under pressure in Beijing
But the “disappearance” of Jack Ma would be voluntary, according to the presenter of CNBC, David Faber. “It’s less visible, on purpose. And you can expect it to last for a while,” says the reporter who has closely followed Jack Ma and his businesses’ activities. David Faber, citing several sources close to the billionaire, indicates that Jack Ma is simply making himself small while Alibaba and Ant Group are in the sights of the Chinese Communist Party.
While several media put forward the possibility that Jack Ma was imprisoned, David Faber formally denied. “He was not captured, he was not taken away, he is not in the same position as Wu,” referring to the chairman of Anbang Insurance who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2018.
>> To read also – The billionaire Jack Ma brutally called to order by the Chinese authorities
As Business Insider reminds us, this would not be the first time that a powerful businessman has disappeared in China after attacking the government. Asset manager Xiao Jianhua, for example, was abducted from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017 and taken into custody in China after regulators accused him of driving investors away from the country’s stock markets. China then took control of some branches of his business.
Receive our latest news
Every morning, the information to remember on the financial markets.